Trinity College: New Social Code Erodes Freedom of Association
In October 2012, Trinity College's Board of Trustees unanimously approved the recommendations of a report prepared by the college's specially created Charter Committee for Building Social Community at Trinity College. The report includes a new Social Code that imposes dramatic new regulations on "social organizations," primarily fraternities and sororities. Among its numerous requirements, the code forbids selective membership, prohibits association with national single-sex social organizations, and requires them to achieve "minority gender" parity in membership and leadership. In addition, social organizations will be required to gain recognition from the administration and any students who associate with unrecognized groups will be subject to expulsion. FIRE wrote to Trinity on March 13, 2013, citing the college's promises of freedom of association and urging the school to honor its students' rights. Trinity did not respond. Amidst heavy criticism from students and alumni, Trinity President James Jones and Board of Trustees chair Paul Raether announced on May 6 that they would step down from their leadership positions in June 2014; for Jones, his term will end one year earlier than his contract originally stipulated.
- "As Students Return to Campus, Rights Remain Threatened," September 4, 2013
- "Fraternities, Sororities Object as Trinity Tramples Freedom of Association; President, Board Chairman Step Down," May 7, 2013: In a surprise announcement via email yesterday, Trinity College President James Jones announced his intention to step down from his post in June 2014, one year before the end of his contract. Jones reported in the same email that Board of Trustees Chair Paul E. Raether will also leave the Trustees' top position. Trinity's two top leaders signaled their departures as student and alumni dissatisfaction is increasing over a new social code that violates Trinity's promises of freedom of association and effectively bans fraternities and sororities through gender quotas and other measures.
- "As Trinity College President, Board Chairman Announce Plans to Step Down, FIRE Discusses Harsh New 'Social Code' with Students," May 6, 2013: In a surprise announcement this morning, Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.) President James Jones announced his intention to step down from his post in June 2014, one year earlier than the end of his contract. Jones announced in the same email that Board of Trustees Chair Paul E. Raether will also be leaving the Trustees' top position. Trinity's two top leaders announced their departures just as student and alumni dissatisfaction reaches a boil over a new social code that tramples freedom of association and effectively bans fraternities and sororities through gender quotas. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff is on campus tonight to address these issues and today's developments with the Inter-Greek Council. FIRE will have more tomorrow on this stunning turn of events.
- "Email from Trinity College President James F. Jones to the Campus Community," May 6, 2013
- "FIRE Letter to Trinity College President James F. Jones, Jr. ," March 13, 2013
- "Report of the Charter Committee for Building Social Community at Trinity College," October 22, 2012
- "Trinity College Student Integrity Contract," September 4, 2012
- "Trinity Policy Change Renders Promise of Freedom of Association Meaningless," by Susan Kruth, September 17, 2013
- "William Voegeli on the Purpose of College and the Fight for Free Speech," by Susan Kruth, June 25, 2013
- "Fraternities, Sororities Object as Trinity Tramples Freedom of Association; President, Board Chairman Step Down," May 7, 2013
- "Trinity College President, Trustee Chair Announce Plans to Step Aside as Debate Rages Over New Social Code," by Peter Bonilla, May 6, 2013
- "Trinity College Jettisons Freedom of Association for Greek Organizations," by Peter Bonilla, May 1, 2013: FIRE has asked Trinity College to revise a sweeping new social code that threatens to eviscerate the freedom of association of fraternities and sororities. In October 2012, Trinity's trustees unanimously approved a committee's recommendations for the new code, which among other things prohibits all social organizations from selective membership, prohibits affiliation with national organizations that don't "adhere to a coeducational philosophy," and subjects students participating in "prohibited" social organizations to discipline up to and including expulsion. Trinity's attack on on its student' right of private association betrays its explicit promises of freedom of association, ultimately putting this right at risk for all Trinity students.